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  1. #1
    rphenning's Avatar
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    road trip from CA to ME

    I have tentatively been planning an escape for a while however recently the anxiety to get the hell out has hit an all time high. I have a few questions for you hopefully that you wouldn't mind answering to help me about a little bit.

    First of all, how do I budget for it? Do I just save up a wad of cash and go? How do I network to find places to crash if I don't feel like camping or staying in a motel? How did you decide where to go and what to see?

    The main issue I am having though is the money. I have no idea how much I should have. I intend to leave southern california, head up to washington, then on to montana/wyoming/idaho, then through the midwest and hopefully get to Maine. I intend to have about 2 or 2 and a half months to do this in. I plan on bringing a Mamiya 645 and my 4x5 view camera. Heaps of film for the medium format and a box or two of color and black and white each for the 4x5. I don't really want to bring my 35mm. Oh ya, and I plan on going alone. My parents love that.

    Anyways, thanks for the help.

  2. #2
    david b's Avatar
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    $5000. That is my suggestion.

    This will allow you to eat, sleep and do whatever you want. It will also help take care of any car problems you might have.

    Up until the birth of my daughter, I was planning "The Great American Couch Tour", meaning I was going to visit and sleep on the couch of as many people as I could, all while photographing those couches and people.

    Good luck with the trip. I am envious.

  3. #3
    David William White's Avatar
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    Whatever cash you've got, turn around once you've spent half?

  4. #4
    rphenning's Avatar
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    how appropriately simple ^. I love it.

    My car gets about 32mpg on the highway and has the autobahn 20 gal. tank so I figure it will be a while between stops. 5K sounds about right for what I had planned, which was just to somehow get to Maine. I wanted it to be pretty spontaneous.

    Though I don't really want to have that much cash with me in places I am unsure of. I was thinking about leaving a majority of the cash at home then using a card on the road. I would ask my parents to pay my bill with a check then just take the cash from what I left.

    The most expensive part is going to be the trip to freestyle.

  5. #5

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    How are your tires, and how are you at driving in snow?
    If you're getting to Maine 2 - 3 months from now, you will have the chance to test that out.

    If you aren't a AAA (American Automobile Club) member, consider becoming one. In addition to the towing services which hopefully you won't need, they have excellent maps and travel guides for the whole country, and offices all over the place to pick up information for whatever region you find yourself (free for members). Not to mention discounts at various hotels, campgrounds and some restaurants.

  6. #6

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    i drove across the country almost all the way with my brother back in 1988 ..
    we did it the ultra inexpensive way. got the most out of our aaa membership
    and a trip-tick .. and stayed at campgrounds for $5/night.
    have a great time, and make sure you spend time in north and south dakota,
    they are some of the nicest places in the country, and very under rated ..
    im empty, good luck

  7. #7

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    I spent the entire summer of '72 on the road from E. Tenn. out west to Wash. St. down the coast to San Francisco. and back to B.C and from there across Canada to New York and back to Tenn. Left with $92 and no car (had a ride to Wash.) and hitchhiked the whole summer. Had a wonderful time and came home with many memories that I wouldn’t give up for the world.

    My experience is that having a bunch of money and a car interferes with generating the interactions with other people that make a trip like that memorable. Having little money and no car force you to interact with real people to find necessities of life and those interactions end up being priceless. I'm not recommending this for you, but mealy pointing out that having too much money can sometimes be as bad as having too little. Having a stash of cash back home that you could call upon in a jam might be the perfect solution to this dilemma. I wish you well, and hope you will have the chance to go on the classic American road trip.

    Denis K

  8. #8

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    National Forest campgrounds are your friend. Leave most of your cash in the bank and take a bank card with you, leave a second card at home with your parents, ATM machines are very commonplace, and if you withdraw $200 or more at a time, the $2 charge is not too painful.

    Budget 10 cents per mile for fuel. Inflate your tires to 2 psi higher than the door sticker pressure for better economy and tire life. Buy an annual pass for the National Parks. Most of the high mountain parks aren't fully open unti the end of May, check the Glacier, Yellowstone and Yosemite park websites. Expect near freezing temps at night in the mountains.

    Enjoy your trip.

  9. #9

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    I have a friend who is ever the vigilant low-budget, spontaneous traveler. In fact, he has some pretty interesting adventures, and I wouldn't mind mimicking at least some of his techniques myself. He swears by this website for info on being cheap: http://www.hobotraveler.com/faqs/index.shtml

    I hope you make your trip and I hope it goes really well. Seems like the kind of thing that will be a success no matter what really happens along the way, if you follow my drift.

  10. #10
    rphenning's Avatar
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    I am an AAA member, I will stop by their office and request some maps and then start reading and planning. Thanks for reminding me about that. So far on my must see places are most of Montana, Moscow Ohio, and now North and South Dakota. Any other suggestions? Maybe more specific? I have done a loop around the pacific northwest with my dad before but I was a lot younger. Most of what I remember is being absolutely in love with where I was 100% of the time.

    "How are your tires, and how are you at driving in snow?
    If you're getting to Maine 2 - 3 months from now, you will have the chance to test that out."
    Just had my tires replaced about 3 months ago however I have 0 experience driving in snow. I was planning on leaving the day school gets out in May though, so snow shouldn't be a problem? Just rain, right?

    So about 10 cents a mile, not bad I can do that no problems. Food won't be a big deal really. I also like the idea of "less is more" since one of the reasons I am doing this is to meet people that I normally would never have met. I really can't imagine how this could go badly for me.

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